Sunday, August 14, 2022

MLB Star Power Index: Listen to the almighty crack of Shohei Ohtani’s bat; Wrigley Field Seagull grabs a slice

Welcome to the MLB Star Power Index — a weekly undertaking that determines with awful authority which players are dominating the current zeitgeist of the sport, at least according to the narrow perceptions of this miserable scribe. While one’s presence on this list is often celebratory in nature, it can also be for purposes of lamentation or ridicule. The players listed are in no particular order, just like the phone book. To this week’s honorees …

A gull at Wrigley Field

Hills be shaken — For a ground-nesting winged carnivore would like to watch some baseball: 

No, the curated image above is not from the week that was, but as ever this space grants primacy to the cherished practice of advancing the word count toward the minimum allowable threshold over timeliness, relevance, or even coherence. 

As for the ring-billed gull above, eyes trained on the heavens that have betrayed him, such a beast – Larus delawarensis, you’ll agree is not an uncommon site around Wrigley Field and environs. If not glimpsed combing the shores of Lake Michigan for floating carrion, they can be found cracking open the shells of quagga mussels by firing them against luxury automobiles or crapping on unhappy children from high above. All of this is to the enduring credit of gulls, of course. 

And this particular gull? Like us, he just wants to watch some baseball. Yes, he is aware of the tidy rationales for not playing This, Our Baseball in the midst of a deluge – that the infield and mound would become foul pudding, that moundsmen would lose their grip on the ball, that fly-catchers would be unable to track struck baseballs because of raindrops upon eyeballs. He is acquainted with the mewling excuses, and he finds them wanting. 

Now let us revise our assumptions. He looks upward, yes, but perhaps he does not do so in the manner of the supplicant. Perhaps humbled entreaty is not his motivation. Yes, he is captured in the image above praying to Krakomaximus, the seagull god of weather, but he is not pleading for anything or offering praise. Sometimes under the weight of mounting indignities, the earth-dweller does not tender polite requests to the jurisdictional god but rather informs that god, in profanest terms, of things are going to be from now on. 

His anger toward humans, their enfeeblement in the face of small droplets of water, and their meek refusal to nourish him with baseball is what animates him. “Oh, righteous, heaven-cradled, Krakomaximus,” he squawks through his longish bill and unhinging jaws. “The !@#$ is this !%&$? It’s rain, not lava. I have cousins on the Atlantic Coast of Uruguay – Olrog’s gulls, or Larus atlanticus –  who drink sea water, and these meeklings can’t play under a replenishing spring shower?

“Just and powerful Krakomaximus, I demand – demand, not ask – that you give me baseball posthaste. I am but a gull lost within the stinking human pageant you see about you. I steal their candy bars from them. They steal my essence, my volition. Baseball is my recompense, and they refuse to give it me on account of … this.”

High in the firmament, Krakomaximus was woken from a deep slumber from this vigorous petition. 

“I don’t feel like doing all that. How about a slice of hot pizza instead?” he said to the gull. 

“Yes,” said the gull. “That will be fine.”

“Here then”:

“Krakomaximus, thank you,” our gull said. “Thank you for the hot slice. And pshaw at preferring Cubs baseball in 2022 to a hot, cheesy slice.”

Shohei Ohtani, Angels

It is agreed-upon fact that the single greatest instance of recorded audio in the history of baseball occurred in 2013, when Domonic Brown of the Phillies banged a hit off the wall in Arizona — a portion of the wall that seems to have been spring-loaded for use in a Looney Tunes vehicle. Please regard: 

Yes, good sound. Good sound indeed. Big audio dynamite. Anyhow, this brings us to Angels two-way thunderclap Shohei Ohtani. He recently assaulted an incoming pitch for a home run that left the bat at 118 mph — tops for his career — and it very much sounded like it. Please witness the the power followed swiftly by the glory: 

That sound? Is it Zeus himself at Top Golf? Is it an active volcano sinking the eight ball off a punishing break over at Black Dragon Billiards? Yes, it is those things, but it’s also Shohei Ohtani with the first and last rifle report of a war he didn’t even realize he was fighting (he won). It is of a different timbre than Dom Brown’s thwacking one off the boingy-boing wall in Phoenix, but different does not mean lesser. Is it better, though? Put it in the canon of baseball sounds and sort it out later. Alternatively, ask the freshly awakened dead what they think about the sound that freshly awakened them. 

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